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christa.jpg (5628 bytes) Chemical Industry News Editor Christa Semko
Every two weeks, Christa will bring you the latest chemical industry news from around the world.  If you have a press release that you'd like to share with us, please mail it to us through our online contact form here.

Dateline: August 21, 2007

Technically Speaking

North America

Global product stewardship
Atrion International has received a multi-year contract from PPG Industries for its Materials Compliance solution, which will become the technology backbone of their Global Product Stewardship (GPS) system.  The GPS system will consolidate and standardize environment, health and safety data about products as well as the procedures for generating Material Safety Data Sheets, hazard label content and other regulatory documents.

Verdict is in
BASF won a $170 million verdict from a Morris County, New Jersey jury that found Lyondell Chemical Co. overcharged it under a contract.  Jurors in the state court in Morristown reached the verdict after three days of deliberation at a trial over whether Lyondell charged its lowest price for propylene oxide, a chemical used in products like mattresses, pillows and seat cushions.  BASF said Lyondell breached a 13-year contract signed in 1998 by failing for eight years to charge the lowest price for any customer.  Lyondell disagreed with the verdict and are evaluating options, including a motion for a new trial.

New facility
Electrochemical Corp. has selected the Newton City-County Airport in Newton, Kansas as the site for its new Advanced Composite Materials development and manufacturing facility for aircraft structures.  The $15 million facility will be approximately 50,000 square feet and will contain manufacturing, laboratory and office space.

Display materials
Rohn and Haas will spend $190 million to acquire a 51% stake in the display materials business of SKC, a South Korean producer of propylene oxide, polyester films and display materials.  SKCís display business consists mostly of plants and technical centers in South Korea, Taiwan and China.  They produce and support light-diffuser films, optical protection films, technology for touch panels, plasma-display filters, and technology to manufacture color filters for liquid-crystal displays.

Energy bills
The House of Representatives has cleared two energy-related bills.  One bill emphasizes renewable energy and efficiency and the other focuses on energy taxes by eliminating tax breaks for oil and gas production and adding tax support for renewable energy.  Approximately one month ago, the Senate passed its energy bill.  The bills have differences, which Congress will try to resolve in conference committee debate when the August recess is over.  Major differences include utilities generating from renewable sources, auto efficiency standards and cellulosic ethanol.

Dow Chemical Canada Inc. has signed an agreement to sell Dowís Western Canada caustic soda business to Univar Canada Ltd.  This sale includes the West Coast Distribution Centre (WDCC) in North Vancouver, British Columbia, its marine, rail and truck terminal assets and other miscellaneous equipment.  Dow Canada will maintain its caustic soda business in Eastern Canada.  No job loss or market disruption is anticipated from this divestiture. 


Sinopec Corp. is in negotiations with Royal Dutch Shell, Kuwait Petroleum Corp. and Dow Chemical Co. to build a refinery and petrochemical plant in
Guangdong, China worth at least $5 billion.  The partners are preparing to do feasibility studies for the 350,000 barrels/day project.

Akzo Nobel has made an official offer to acquire the U.K. specialty chemical company ICI.  Despite turning down earlier deals, ICIís board of directors has agreed to the deal and recommended that shareholders accept it.

Propionic acid
BASF is increasing its annual capacity for propionic acid at its sites in Ludwigshafen, Germany and Nanjing, China.  Production in Ludwigshafen will be expanded by 30,000 tons/year and in Nanjing it will be expanded by 9,000 tons/year.  Both expansions should be completed by mid-2009.

PTA plant
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. received a 50 billion yen order for a large-scale purified terephthalic acid (PTA) plant from Polski Koncern Naftowy Orlen S.A., Polandís largest oil refining and petrochemical company.  This will be the first PTA plant to be built in Poland.  The Wloclawek, Poland plant will have a capacity of 600,000 tons of PTA/year and should be on-stream in October 2010.  In addition to supplying the major equipment, MHI will provide detailed engineering, equipment procurement and on-site supervision of installation.  PTA is a chemical used in making polyester resins and PET plastic bottles.  In Poland, PTA demand for use in PET bottles has been increasing sharply in conjunction with the countryís economic growth, and this plant should respond to this increased demand.

Criminal negligence is the suspected cause of a chemical plant explosion in Savansk, Russia that killed at least four people.  The early-morning blast also injured four other employees.  The Savanskkhimplast factory manufactures 250,000 tons of polyvinyl chloride each year and uses toxic dichloroethane in its process.  A resulting fire was quickly extinguished and there are no major environmental threats.

Technically Speaking

We have a pressure transmitter on an ejector near the top of our distillation column.  The transmitter is suddenly reading consistent pressure fluctuations while there is no sign of such change just downstream of the transmitter.  Any idea what could be happening here?

"You must pay careful attention to the details of how the instrument is hooked up. When measuring such low pressures, any small interference will be significant relative to your measurement. What I would be most concerned with is moisture. If there are any spots in the impulse line (the tubing between your column's overhead line and your transmitter) where moisture can accumulate, a significant error can be generated. Even if the impulse line slopes continuously from the transmitter to your process, which it should do, if the diameter is too small then small slugs of water could accumulate and invalidate your readings. This would be due to the water's surface tension."

djack77494 via Forums

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